How Microsoft’s LinkedIn acquisition will influence the future of collaboration

Image courtesy of the LinkedIn Press Room

I‘ve been reading all the coverage and analysis of Microsoft’s recent acquisition of LinkedIn, and I fall squarely into the camp of the whole deal being a data play that will help Microsoft build out their Office graph. While the LinkedIn acquisition will have a direct impact on their Dynamics CRM platform but my interest is in how LinkedIn will influence the future of Office 365 and online collaboration.

Collaboration and communications with context

I’m rounding four years working from home more or less and see the need for collaboration with more context. It’s one thing to know things about colleagues in the cubicles around you; it’s another thing to have a level of context about co-workers, contractors, and partners that might be working on the same project.
 
 For example, I just finished up a large contract and while I’ve enjoyed working part-time for the past few weeks I’m also pitching new projects, talking to recruiters, and having calls with prospective clients. I like to do my homework about people I meet with for the first time. I’m using LinkedIn even more than usual to prepare for calls and meetings. Now, if I could do this research within Office 365 or an Office application that would be something very useful to me and a key differentiator for the Office 365 platform. I was a fan of the late great Mynd Calendar because they gave me that level of access prior to meetings.
 
 The LinkedIn acquisition could also give Microsoft an edge on analytics giving Office 365 administrators even more granular insights into how their users collaborate and communicate with each other.
 
 I once wondered if there was ever such a thing as a corporate LinkedIn culture and haven’t thought about it again until I heard news of the Microsoft acquisition.There’s a dark side to all of this integration in my opinion because it’s hard enough to get workers to use a personal space on a collaboration platform and now you are asking them to maintain a robust and up to date LinkedIn profile to get the full benefit from LinkedIn data.

Changes to the document model

I got my start in the word processor and print document world to later transition into online help and PDFs finally to today’s world of wikis and content management systems. Recently, I read an article about Microsoft’s future is in decomposable documents, content based on component parts. Microsoft GigJam is an early example of Microsoft’s work in this emerging area.
 
 Access to the full spigot of LinkedIn data combined with document components could enable a reimagining of documents and collaboration that could lead to another evolution of content. Could we see the next generation of content that’s personalized based on the data from your LinkedIn profile? Such a technology could have implications for online knowledge bases, technical documentation, and a range of other online content. 
 
 The addition of LinkedIn data raises some questions with me about how it may or may not influence document and site metadata if at all.
 
 I also wonder how the Microsoft acquisition will affect the LinkedIn Publishing Platform. I had high hopes for the platform but like a lot of contributors to the platform, my posts seem to come out short in their algorithmic and content dance. While I still publish to the platform, it is more for fun these days. Would the LinkedIn Publishing Platform become more collaborative with Microsoft in charge?

Security and identity management

What nobody is speaking about yet is what influence could LinkedIn data have on the security of Office 365. Could their new found trove of professional data ever find itself as part of a security or identity management feature? Would that prove a challenge to Okta and other identity management solutions?

Final thoughts

Like a lot of you, I have a love/hate relationship with LinkedIn since its launch. Looking past that, I’ve watched analytics and big data entering cloud security and project management for the past few years. Microsoft owning and integrating the full spigot of LinkedIn data into Office 365 could mean a richer collaboration experience.
 
 LinkedIn augmenting Office 365 and other Microsoft cloud applications is also going to be a game of execution for Microsoft.


Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by TechBeacon, Network World, CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.

BYOD and taxes


The son of a good friend of mine is a master mechanic for a major auto dealership chain. He owns his own tools. His employer doesn’t. He takes off the cost of his tools as an employee business expense on his taxes every year. He collects tools as some of us collect tablets and smartphones.

Tax season, and my friend’s son deducting his tools got me thinking about the current state of full-time employees, bring-your-own-device (BYOD), and those who are denied personal tax deductions on their United States federal taxes.

Full-time employees face the intersection of BYOD and taxes where the

The self-employed have an advantage because they can write off device purchases as a business expense on their federal taxes. David sees a trend of full-time employees needing a side business under which they can deduct mobile device purchases and associated costs.

Note: I’m not a tax accountant, so check with a tax professional before setting up a side business.

The trade off for BYOD users is will it be cost justifiable for them to spend money to write their devices off? Android tablets and smartphones dropping in price make this a consideration for some users. David says his gut feeling is it might be too expensive in tax preparation costs for people to write off such inexpensive devices.

As a freelance writer, I have the opportunity to write off devices. Even when I’ve been a full-time employee, I still pursued freelance projects on the side and was able to deduct device purchases and related expenses on a Schedule C on my federal taxes. I’ve had colleagues do the same, and David himself mentioned doing the same thing during different chapters of his career.

While I hope to see the United States Internal Revenue Service recognize BYOD expenses in the tax codes, it’s still a far off possibility from my perspective. Until that time comes, if ever, companies moving to BYOD (and their employees) will need to consider the BYOD value proposition and the costs it may place on employees who may not want to personally bear such expenses.

Should the United States federal tax codes change to accommodate the growth of BYOD programs in businesses? Sound off in the comments.

Image by Jaelynn Castillo via Unsplash.com

An earlier version of this post appeared on The Mobility Hub (site now offline).


Will Kelly is a technical writer and analyst based in the Washington, DC area. He has worked with commercial, federal, higher education, and publishing clients to develop technical and thought leadership content. His technology articles have been published by TechBeacon, CNET TechRepublic, Government Computer News, Federal Computer Week, Toolbox.com, ZDNet.com, and others. Follow Will on Twitter:@willkelly.